Jeff Gordon will return to Daytona International Speedway in January to compete in the Rolex 24 the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 2017 season opener it was announced Thursday.
Gordon will join the Wayne Taylor Racing lineup of Ricky and Jordan Taylor and veteran Italian Max “The Ax” Angelelli. Gordon co-drove to a podium finish in his only career sportscar event – the 2007 Rolex 24 At Daytona – alongside Angelelli, Jan Magnussen and team owner and three-time sportscar racing champion Wayne Taylor in the No. 10 WTR prototype.
Next month, Gordon will be behind the wheel of the new Cadillac DPi-V.R, unveiled by GM Wednesday. Gordon, who has 805 career Sprint Cup starts with 93 victories and championships in 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001, retired from full-time competition in 2015.
“I really enjoyed racing in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2007 with Max, Wayne and Jan,” said Gordon, now an analyst during NASCAR on FOX broadcasts. “When I announced I would no longer be competing full-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, my hope was that I would get an opportunity like this to compete again in such a prestigious event – with Konica Minolta and Wayne Taylor Racing – with the hopes of winning it this time. I know that Ricky and Jordan are super-fast, and I believe it will be a very strong combination.”
Wayne Taylor Racing has finished second at the Rolex in 2013, 2014 and this season. They crossed the finish line third in 2015 before being penalized for a drive-time violation one week later. This year’s runner-up finish included Formula 1 veteran Rubens Barrichello in the driver lineup and the 2013 runner-up effort included then-reigning IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay. Team owner Wayne Taylor, who co-drove in his final career Rolex 24 during the team’s runner-up finish in 2014, won the prestigious event alongside Angelelli and Frenchman Emmanuel Collard in 2005 en route to that season’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series championship.
“We are excited to have Jeff back in the lineup with us for the 2017 Rolex 24,” Taylor said. “He was with us when we started this race team back in 2007 and he helped us finish on the podium. We have kept in close touch ever since and have always been looking for another opportunity to have him join our driver lineup. That opportunity is finally here after his retirement from full-time competition in NASCAR and we are very much looking forward to working with him again.”
Angelelli, is one of the winningest drivers in sportscar racing history with 27 career victories and 72 podiums.
“I think it is exceptional to have Jeff back with us after 10 years,” said Angelelli, who in 2014 stepped out of his full-time driving role with WTR, the organization in which he has been a partner with Wayne Taylor since 2007. “In a way, I’m such a fan of his, but I look forward to sharing our new Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R racecar with him, discussing our setup and race strategy. It was great the first time – we might have won that race if some things would have gone our way. Now that it’s happening again, with the new car, it’s going to be absolutely great.”
The 55th Rolex 24 is set for Jan. 28 to 29, 2017, with the annual three days of Roar Before the 24 testing set for three weeks prior.